Archive for the ‘Photo Tips’ Category

Eyes Up!


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In most of my headshots and portraits, I’ll ask the person to look straight into the camera lens. This encourages engagement of the viewer of the photograph. We can look at the picture and have a sense that the subject is looking back at us and connecting with us is some way.

But there many other approaches to the eyes. In a recent studio shoot with Sandra, an aspiring model, I asked her in this image to look up at the ceiling, directly over the camera. This opened up and showed off her beautiful eyes. Also, when a person looks up, there can be an unconscious message of hope, optimism, looking into the future – or all three. Especially with Sandra’s natural smile, there is a positive vibe about the photograph. And, as viewers, even though Sandra is not looking directly at the lens, we can relate to her and imagine what she’s thinking and feeling.

How do you react to this picture? I’d love to hear from you – either by email or a post to the blog.

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”

So – What is “White Balance” ?

by Blake Robinson

August 22nd, 2013    0 Comments     Add Comment
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Sara one

What is White Balance? The name should really be color balance. Have you ever taken a picture inside, in flourescent lights, where the faces look green? This is a typical white balance problem. The camera is set for a certain type of light and the actual light – the color temperature of the light –  is different.

In the image above, from my recent shoot with Sara, I asked Sara to hold up a white balance card. The grey in the card is middle gray or 18% gray. After the shoot, in editing the image in Lightroom, I sampled the gray color to determine if my color was true or not. In this case, I was very close. I took the minor adjustment that Lightroom suggested and applied it automatically to all the images of our shoot.

In the studio the color temperature of my lights is 5500 Kelvin and I set my camera white balance setting to 5500K as well, so usually the color is right on. If I’m shooting outside, or inside at a location where there’s a mix of flourescent, tungsten and natural light, I’m going to use a white balance card for sure, so I can achieve true colors in the final images.

Capture0002too warm-Edit

In the image above, I’ve taken the same picture and purposely changed to white balance to an extreme level that is too “warm.” The skin tones can get too yellow and orange. However, there may be times when you start with a white balance the is “correct,” but you decide you want to warm up the picture slightly – that’s a artistic call. In this picture, I’ve gone too far.

Sara three

Here’s the other extreme – Sara is too “cool” is this image. With point and shoot and DSLR cameras, setting the white balance for auto usually works well in most cases. Or, on a cloudy day outside, for example, using the “cloudy” setting generally gives a good result. But most of the time, even with the right camera setting, I’ll adjust the white balance some while editing the picture.

This can all be a little confusing at first. If you have any questions. let me know!

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”
 the Lighting


The old English proverb says, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”  Very true. But in photography, the eyes are the windows to the lighting. Let me explain.

If you look at the eyes in a photograph, and especially the catch-lights, you can usually tell how the photograph was lit. In the picture above, of Melanie, I used a beauty dish, over the camera, angled down at about 45 degrees.RPSBDK12 I also used a white circular reflector, held just below the frame of the image, to bounce a little light up from below. Here’s what a beauty dish looks like – a parabolic reflector, with a center piece so that the light does not shine directly on the subject. The beauty dish provides a wonderfully soft light. The round catch lights are a tipoff to the beauty dish and even where it was placed.







If you look carefully at the closeup of Melanie’s eye, you will see the clear circle of light which is the reflection of the beauty dish. You can also see, more faintly, just below the pupil, the reflection of the round reflector I used to bounce a bit of light back upwards.

Let’s look at another photo. This is Catherine.


OK, this is the easiest lighting of all to figure out. See the circles of light, just going around her pupils? This can only be one kind of light – a ring light. In the picture at right, below, is a ring light set up in much the same way that I photographed Catherine. On the side of the light facing the subject is a circular florescent light-bulb, set in the round frame. In my picture, I set the light pretty close to Catherine – probably 18 inches away. The camera was placed right inside the opening of the ring light.

The ring-light provides an even more flattering and soft light than a beauty dish.










The circular catch-lights are not to everyone’s taste. I think they work well in this image. Because the light from the ring comes from every angle, there are almost no shadows on the face.

So, here’s a secret most photographers will not share with you. Sometimes, after the picture is taken, a photographer will change the catch-light in Photoshop to hide the lighting setup he or she used. This seems a little like cheating to me, so I don’t do it.

These are just two examples of ways to light a portrait. These techniques are especially appropriate for women. With men, you want a bit harsher and more contrasty light. 

Let me know how you like them!  I’m ready to take your portrait – with just the right lighting in the eyes to provide good windows to the soul.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.